The big question as of late is whether consumer privacy really exists in the mobile space. Privacy is an issue for many consumers when it comes to mobile devices. According to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, privacy is a top concern for mobile app users, as more than half (57%) have uninstalled apps for fear of sharing personal information or decided not to install apps to protect their privacy.
When it comes to brands sharing information via mobile devices, I think information should only be given to consumers who have downloaded mobile applications and, thus, have opted in to receive content published by that mobile app – inclusive of mobile ads. For example, I have a Weather Channel app on my smart phone. And when I view the app, it serves mobile ads from a variety of brands, such as Home Depot, Walmart, Progressive Insurance, etc. I think these ads are totally legit and I can choose not to view those ads when they pop up.
Further, while location-based marketing efforts are really innovative, I do think consumers should have the right to opt in or out. And, if they opt in, their consumer data should not be shared or sold without their permission. And, of course, that’s where the issue lies.
Marketers need to be transparent as to whether they will collect consumer data and how they plan to use the data. Now, there are new technologies that require customers to download a mobile app, turn on a Bluetooth, accept location services and opt in so they can be tracked and receive in-store notifications. I think this is transparency at its finest, as consumers have the right to privacy if they so choose.
Privacy is certainly a hot topic and is very sensitive issue among consumer audiences – as it should be! A recent Truste survey revealed that 78% of consumers won’t download an application they do not trust, which is down from 85% in 2012.
Privacy is also a primary concern of smartphone users when using mobile apps and is only second to battery life. Fortunately, with the involvement of congress, the FTC and the White House, there’s greater awareness about mobile privacy – among consumers and marketers – and there’s self-regulation initiated by the Digital Advertising Alliance.
So at the end of the day, it’s important that marketers balance privacy concerns with consumer needs. By being transparent, consumers are informed and can choose on their own if they want to be tracked by brands. Giving consumers the option to opt in is an important step in building consumer trust.